Metal Slug Book - Interview with Bitmap Books


On the eve of a new book by Sam Dyer of Bitmap Books we took time out to speak to Sam about this new and exciting subject:

You can preorder the book here:

1. This new book is a about a game rather than a console ? Why the change in direction?

I’m always looking for new challenges and ideas for books and opportunity arose with SNK to do another book, based on the success of NEOGEO: a visual history. It felt like the natural thing to do was to delve into their extensive back catalogue, but the first problem was picking a game series to focus on.

2. Why Metal Slug?

Metal Slug has always been a game I’d enjoyed playing, plus it looks FANTASTIC and I knew there was a good juicy story around it’s creation. What I didn’t know at the beginning was how many myths and rumours are surrounded with the creation on Metal Slug and the developer Nazca. This in particular felt like a huge challenge to solve and tell the truth in this official book.

Metal Slug Art

3. Does this mean there could be more books on specific games coming soon?

I’d love to do further books around a specific game series, but it would have to: a) be a franchise with a very strong following b) have a good story around its creation that can be retold in the book. The opportunities really open up when looking at a single game franchise and that’s exciting for the future.

4. What makes this game so special enough to you to create a book?

Metal Slug has arguably some of the greatest 2D sprite and background art on any system so it was always going to look good in a book. But it’s more than that – it’s the sheer volume of animations and art in each game, the craft and attention to detail. All at a time in 1996 when was world was obsessed with everything being 3D, makes this even more amazing. This all starts to make sense when you read the book as it’s revealed that the main Metal Slug design team all came from Irem where they had created 2D games such as In the Hunt, R-Type and Air Duel.

Metal Slug Scene

5. The Neo Geo mini has been released, what do you think of the retro console mini market?

I love the mini consoles. Any way to play these games legally is a good thing, right? I think the benchmark has been set very high with the SNES and NES Classic Editions – some have fallen way short of this and some have not quite hit the same heights. I’m still waiting for the Amiga Mini – I’d be all over that one if they can remove all the faff around Amiga emulation and be able to boot up SWOS with a few clicks – I’d be in nostalgia heaven.

6. Do you like see these old games rebooted on next gen consoles?

I’m not a huge fan of classics rebooted onto modern consoles as it’s a fine balance and when done wrong, it just looks so bad. I think if you’re going to do a remake, put your own spin on it like a decent remixer would do to a record. An example of this is Wonder Boy by Lizard Cube – the art style divided opinions but it was brave and but a new twist on the classic game. I actually prefer demakes and love seeing a huge game crammed into a much inferior machine and how it’s approached – Halo 2600 and Super Bread Box are great examples of this done right and the results are outstanding.

7. If you could collaborate with anyone fully on a book. Who is it and why?

That’s a hard one... I’d probably say The Stampers. To tell their story of Ultimate through to Rare, with them fully ob-board would be 'once a lifetime' kind of stuff. Hopefully it will happen one day.

8.Metal slug 1, 2 or 3?

Personally, it’s Metal Slug 3. Everyone has their favourite but I feel like number 3 has it all – the best music, visuals, biggest (branching) levels, crazy slugs and twists such as aliens and going into space. It’s a full-on game that is so much fun to play and has enough variation in the gameplay to keep you interested. The first time I saw the zombie blood vomit attack I was a real ‘WOW’ moment for me. In my opinion, Metal Slug 3 feels like the peak of the series. After this, I have a real soft spot for Metal Slug 2nd Mission on the NEOGEO Pocket Color as how they managed to cram Metal Slug into that console is amazing. Yeah, the graphics are scaled down and there isn’t as much going on on-screen but it feels like a Metal game. A great achievement.

Metal Slug Scene 2

9. What would you add to the book if you could add absolutely anything, that you couldn't do this time round?

We managed to secure some amazing interviews for the book but there were one or two people that declined to appear. In those circumstances, there’s nothing you can do. So if I could add ANYTHING into the book, it would be another couple of interviews with these individuals.

10. What's your next book - can you say!?

After the Metal Slug book, we will be releasing our 7th visual compendium, this time on the Atari 2600/7800.

Thanks, Sam


You can preorder the book here:

Metal Slug Promo

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